Sunday, March 24, 2019

Lost & Found

Several things around here seem to have gone permanently missing or are put away so well I may never find them. I suppose it is not surprising with all the disruption the last few months with having the floors done and then the unexpected washer disaster as well as three trips in Timmber Wolf but it is annoying, especially since one of the missing things is my favorite pair of black pants!

Among the missing were Geoff's studfinder and level but these gave me the necessary leverage to push him over the edge to finally get a good size toolchest. I mentioned this at the end of a previous blog, Odds, ends & change but at the time it was still a work in progress. As I said there:

"One of the things I finally got insistent about with Geoffrey was that he get a tool chest, a good sized roll around tool chest so he could consolidate the close to a dozen different toolboxes he had in various places in the garage and the corner junk room. It was so bad that he sometimes had to hunt for a particular tool for hours before he could do something and I was tired of it! I also could never find a tool when I needed it"

At the time it was still a work in progress as he gradually got all those toolboxes emptied and sorted and developed the various drawer contents and labels. He really got carried away with this new garage area space ... so much so that after we did the final labels yesterday he posted a picture and wrote about it on his Face Book page!

It looks much better now with the proper labels which I managed to put on with only one slightly crooked (Measuring on the upper right) and none of them have wrinkles or air bubbles. He had in fact gotten so carried away that he got a wooden work bench and put it up against the wall to the left of the rolling tool chest.

For those with the discerning eye you may have noticed that on the right end of the chest there are wires which, yes, are a live plug in, sourced from the round yellow cord holder over to the left on the wall. Now, those of you who know Geoff probably realize that this area may get pretty piled up and messy but at least it gathers it all into one area!

And for the curious ... no, Geoff has not yet found the level or studfinder. I figure they won't show up until he buys new ones.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Walls, walls, walls ...

It's interesting how some kinds of injuries take a day or two to reach their worst. The injuries from the fall I took in Key Largo wasn't too bad  the first 24 hours or so but by Saturday my left foot in particular was suffering! It wasn't until Sunday that the bruising in the foot really showed all around the big toe joint! Anyway, I got to sit still doing little or nothing in order to stay off it and not aggravate it and that gave me time to think about ... our walls, walls, walls!

Well, when I started to write about these, I thought the whole thing about my mom's needlepoint pictures was two or three years ago ... so back checking, I found that the initial emails about them were in late 2011, more like seven and a half years ago. At that time, my cousin Cyndi contacted me about some needlepoint ship flags that my mother had done for her father, my uncle Ted, in the 1980's or 1990's.

There are eight of them and they say: Fair Wind; Fine Line; Good Sail; Snug Port; a single word to each frame. Cyndi wanted to know if I wanted them or should they just go to Goodwill or something. My mother put a great deal of time into creating these, perhaps for Ted & Allene's 50th anniversary in 1995 so yes, I needed to keep them.

Of course, then came the problem of where and how to put them up. They are each quite heavy and just hanging them on a nail was a non-starter, requiring careful placement with molly screws due to their weight. We finally decided the best way to put them up would be to use two long trim pieces, hanging the picture from one and balancing the bottom of the frame against another. We accordingly got the trim pieces and planned the installation ... sometime probably in 2012 or 2013. Well, they say Patience is a virtue and we finally got these up this year, 2019! The longest lived item ever on our to-do list!

Since soon after we moved here, I wanted to put one of my son John's kind of kites up on the walls which in some places are very high. The main problem of course was that I did not have one. It wasn't until last year that John finally designed his own kite and had them for sale. I quickly got one signed by him and his wife and son and after moving a fish I had up there, the kite is now up on the wall and on top of the bookshelf below are three of his winning awards.

Of course, the fish it displaced had a story as well. Back in late 2015 when Geoff was in the hospital recovering from his car wreck, my friend and co-worker Neda and I went down to Flagler Beach for a class that would fulfill one of the work requirements at H&R Block. We went down early to eat down there as it would be too soon to eat here in St Augustine before going down to the class. I think the restaurant we went to was called the Flagler Fish Company but what I do remember is that they had art on the walls including metal sculptures of different fish. I looked up on the wall and there was this grey fish just the coloring of the furniture was I was getting in my living room ... I had to have it. Of course then it sat for a while in the garage waiting for my living room to be done! It ended up placed above the credenza and TV where later I wanted to put the kite. I am thinking of putting it back in that empty space below the kite but then I would have to get something bigger and appropriate to put where it is now.

There has long been the problem of the empty hallway which is a relatively short stretch between the front entry and the master bedroom doorway. a dead empty space. Once or twice I spoke of putting framed pictures up but Geoff really didn't want anything to bang into so the whole concept went on the back burner but then last week was spent with my foot up and not much to do besides contemplate ... hmmmm. We now have a wall hanging, a light weight thin fabric tapestry type thing which awaits the receipt of the custom ordered wooden bar to hang it with. It won't stick out from the wall at all except way high where the bar is and if necessary we can tack the bottom edge. ... problem solved!

Several times including day before yesterday I was sitting here at my computer and a crash resounds through the wall, again. Geoff has had a continuing war with the picture that was hanging on the wall opposite the door into the toilet in the master bathroom. knocking it down and even making dings in the wall ... so, on to Amazon and checking out wall hangings just not as big as what I got for the hallway. Geoff said he wanted something with the sea and storms and such so I pulled about a dozen or so choices and we went through them, choosing the image to the left which comes in a stick on canvas that will go directly on the wall ... hmmm ... hope we can get that up nicely but at least we are being experimental in a less visible location. ... another problem solved and we're running out of walls!

and now for Key Largo

We had left the third day of our stay in southern Florida open and unanimously agreed that we wanted to go to Key Largo from what we had seen the day before. We headed back south and returned to the Key Largo Welcome Center for information, quickly settling on a couple of boat tours and found we could get discounted tickets and reservations for them there at the welcome center.

Our first stop was at Pirates Cove Watersports for the Eco Tour which travels around Florida Bay between the keys and the mainland and the local channels. Luckily for us, we were the only people there and got our boat all to ourselves. Our Captain was Doug who frequently apologized when we were unable to locate any dolphins or manatees although he seemed quite knowledgeable about them and their habits and habitats.

Out in the bay we spotted a sandbar with several kinds of birds parked on it. It was fascinating to see them standing on this narrow spit of sand, almost appearing, especially at a distance, to be standing on the water. Here and elsewhere there were the darker waters often appearing when manatees are rooting around on the sea bed but they can stay down for quite a while, sometimes as long as twenty minutes. 

We continued back into the channels looking for the elusive manatees. The one above was more of a backwater but there were also a lot of channels through residential areas so people could live by the water with a boat dock and everything right there in their back yard.

Back at the home dock, the tide was out and the step up on to the dock was high ... I didn't quite manage it, catching the tip of my flip flop and falling on to my knees. I acquired a few bruises and minor cuts on my knees, the worst of the fall being twisting my foot and the big toe joint. I already had a bruise on my right leg about midway so guess I was just adding insult to injury!

We headed out quickly in order to make it in time to our other boat tour ... this one the glass bottom boat,  the Princess II out into the ocean to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the only undersea park in the United States.

Fortunately my fall didn't hurt much (yet) so didn't interfere with this second trip.The first part of the trip out to the reef area was quite boring and since I am prone to seasickness I used what tricks I knew to keep it under control: look to where the boat is going, keep my eyes on the horizon as much as possible, and, of course, try not to think about it! I was fairly successful, never feeling slightly more than a little queasy. It was some how reassuring to see those little white sickness bags so clearly sometimes they do have people that get sick.

And, no, my picture of the glass bottom wasn't as good as the one above that I stole from a web site!

We finally got out to the coral reef park and so bits of reef and a lot of different fish including parrot fish and clown fish although I didn't manage to see any of those myself. I did see a couple of rays, also known as skates. I'm not sure but I think the two rays I saw were either devil rays or the cownose ray pictured here.

Again, we have seen reefs and rays and most of these other fish in aquariums and in pictures but it is so much more meaningful to see them in their own natural habitat even when the real thing is less visible or less impressive.

After the Princess returned to dock we went back to Pirates Cove Watersports to reassure them that we had no significant injuries and so I could look around the gift shop and then on to lunch/dinner at Lobster Larry's which sounds like that's where Big Betsy (in my Key West blog) should be!

The next day we headed home and after struggling through good old Miami traffic (ugh!) we were northbound on I-95 where we saw a lot of motorcyclists, many probably headed for Bike Week in Daytona Beach which this year runs from March 8th to March 17th including four with Florida Outlaws MC vests, one of which said 'Probationary Outlaw' which made me curious but you can't find everything online no matter what they say!

Key West

On Wednesday morning we set off for the bottom of America in Key West. Florida City is near the end of the mainland and shortly we were on a straight forward highway with swamp and water on both sides headed for the beginning of the Keys, Key Largo. Technically there are a couple of keys to the northeast of Key Largo but Largo is the first main key and the first with land access to the mainland.

We stopped at the Key Largo Welcome Center where we got a map and some information and then headed on down US 1 towards Key West. We soon ran into another lengthy traffic jam which at least gave us time to look around us. There are a lot of quirky things down in the Keys and most of it is tourist oriented which we are used to as down around town here in St Augustine it is the same.

We did spot a fascinating carved wood figure, a mailbox I think or at least next to someone's mailbox. I think that's a pipe in his mouth but at first glance it seemed to be his tongue! A few yards further on that side was, surprise, a woodcarver with a bunch of different wooden fish to hang on your walls as well as selling slabs of wood to carve. I considered getting Geoff to pull in and stop but was afraid we might have trouble getting back in to the slow moving traffic jam.

A little further along there was a huge lobster figure out in front of Rain Barrel Artisan Village. If we weren't still slogging along in the traffic jam, we would have stopped as the Rain Barrel looked interesting. It was impossible to get a good photo of the huge lobster so I borrowed one from the Roadside America website which mentions that it is in Islamorada and is known as Big Betsy. Although Hurricane Irma ravaged this part of the Keys a couple of years ago, Betsy survived without a scratch.

Still in Islamorado, a desperate need for a rest room drove us to stop for lunch at Lorelei's, a restaurant & cabana bar consisting mostly of a deck and runs out into the water on the north side of the Keys, into Florida Bay. The menu was surprisingly good and I absolutely loved the Captain's Quesadillas with shrimp, listed as an appetizer, it is a good meal for one person! I am drooling just remembering it.

Small birds checked out the empty tables for crumbs and what appeared to be a white heron (shown at the left) stalked around the deck. Seagulls flew around overhead and we were quickly glad Lorelei's had installed bird wire deterrent, unobtrusive white wires criss-crossing above the deck. The wires form an unstable landing area and are barely visible unless you look for them.

While we were having lunch, the traffic jam apparently eased up a bit and a few more miles down the road speeds were about normal. For much of the trip, you can't see the water that you know is on both sides of whatever Key you are on although at various points you can see the water on one side or the other. When you get to the Seven Mile Bridge however, you can see the water stretching out to the horizon on both sides.

A new bridge was completed in 1982 but you can still see the remains of the old bridge. The Overseas Highway over the old bridge opened up in 1938, built on what remained of Flagler's railroad bridge after it was struck by a hurricane in 1935. Over 400 people perished in that hurricane.

We finally arrived in Key West  which has mostly tiny streets and tight corners and lots of people. Key West is obviously a tourist town. We gave up trying to find the large buoy that shows the southernmost point of the United States but did pass Highway US 1's mile marker 0 which is said to be 94 miles from Cuba!

The traffic problems had slowed us down a lot and finding parking cut almost another hour off our time. We had gotten discounted tickets to the Shipwreck Treasure Museum and the Key West Aquarium and managed to get to them in time.

The Shipwreck Museum was very interesting but not very accessible to mobility problems. I had to skip the lower floor and top floor entirely although what I saw on the second floor that I did have access to through a strange little elevator was fascinating. If you are going to the Keys and don't have mobility issues, don't miss the museum.

The Schooner Wolf
The aquarium on the other hand was pretty standard and if you have already visited a Floridian or sea creature aquarium you could give this one a skip. For friendliness and information as well as interaction with staff or volunteers, I found the dilapidated aquarium in Tarpon Springs a better choice and cheaper to boot.

Our time shortage meant we had to cut out the possibility of seeing the Topsail Schooner Wolf which just by the name Wolf would have worth getting a glimpse of.

By the time we were done, Geoffrey was more than ready to get out of Key West. What with the tiny streets, twisty full parking garage, and crowded streets, including roosters and hens, he was ready to get headed back to Florida City.

We headed back up US 1 into the dusk and then dark.Not sure if we will ever return to Key West, too touristy and a lengthy drive. Key Largo, Islamorado, and Marathon seem nicer without the crowding.

I am glad we have now been to the southernmost part of the country, it was all interesting, just not sure we will go back all the way to Key West.

Sunday, March 17, 2019


Finally, I have caught up to our most recent trip and it is even the same month! At the end of the post "Journey's end?" we abruptly terminated our trip into the south of Florida when everything headed for disaster. A lot happened in between but we decided to finish that trip now although this time we decided since we were planning to stay in just one place, we would drive Wolf, the Ascent, down and leave poor Timmber Wolf at home.

Back when I was still at H&R Block, I had a long time customer and when I mentioned to him that we were planning a trip into south Florida, he had recommended we stay in Florida City, south of Miami, as it would be convenient to both the Everglades and the Keys and was a pleasant town to stay in. Accordingly, we made motel reservations there and headed out early. 

Having started so early, we arrived at the Quality Inn in Florida City mid day and were able to check in and then, on getting helpful recommendations from the front desk, headed for the Farmers Market for lunch. This is a nice inexpensive place, no frills, no fancy decor but their soup of the day, Lasagna Soup, was delicious.

We just drove around a little orienting ourselves and then headed back for the motel and got settled in. We had a nice early dinner at the Capri Restaurant. They had escargot (snails) on the menu and since I have not had any in ages, I ordered these. They were cooked in a garlic butter sauce. I am used to having them served on a plate with indentations for the snails but here they were on a dish which is obviously used to cook them as well ... very nice! ...I had a lovely steak for my main course and we were overall pleased with the ambiance and service.

The next day we headed off for the Everglades and promptly got stuck in a traffic jam. We never did see what had everybody clogged up for probably 25-30 miles as we crawled along at around 5mph! We were headed for Captain Jack's in Everglade City which turned out to be a little bit west of Joanie's Crab Shack, the last fun place on our previous trip. We had purchased online a combo package which included the Mangrove Airboat Tour at Captain Jack's and then around to Wooten's Grasslands Airboat Tour, Swamp Buggy, and Animal Sanctuary.

The air boat seats five or six people plus the captain, in our case this was Captain Scott who was excellent, providing just the right amount of story and information, taking time to try to hunt out things for us to see but also just plain running the airboat at speed just for fun.Unfortunately we didn't see any manatees or dolphins in the brackish water in this part of the Everglades but we learned a lot about how the mangroves create land out of the swamp. There are three types of mangroves, red, white, and black, but it is the red ones that do most of the growth.

It swam around for a while under water but finally let us see him!

In one of the backwaters we finally found a gator as you can see above although it took some time to get a view of more than just a shadow in the water.

We also got to see raccoons which live in the swampy land of the Everglades eating frogs, crawfish,and other aquatic creatures as well as fruits and plants.A few fall prey to alligators but their biggest enemy nowadays are the Burmese pythons that are disrupting the balance of nature and the natural food chains in the Everglades.

The picture above is Captain Scott with one of the raccoons but there was a whole family of them in the mangrove roots and muddy ground of this backwater. We saw at least five!

It was after this interlude in the backwater that we were back out in the channels and Captain Scott showed us some speed and swift turns. Airboats are fun!

The captains work for tips and Captain Scott was so excellent that he received a good tip from us and hopefully the others on our tour. One of the other couples on the air boat turned out to have also gotten the combo package and so were with us in the next air boat tour and the swamp buggy ride so we stumbled on them again over at Wooten's where we were scheduled for the Grassland Airboat Tour and then the Swamp Buggy Tour across the road.

This next air boat ride was in a different area. It at first seemed  some what the same but quickly we realized that the mangroves were smaller and younger and there were lots of grassy areas and wider water channels. Our Captain here was JR and he was quite different from Captain Scott. There was more just plain fun to the ride and I think it was geared a bit more to children and fun seekers as there was less information. This may also have been partly due to the continued scarcity of manatees and it was more than halfway through the tour before we saw an alligator and then it was the only one we saw although I must admit we saw more of this one as you can see below. It soon crawled over a bank and disappeared.

Geoffrey had chosen what he thought would be the driest seat in the air boat and was rewarded with several splashes of water as Captain JR took some speedy turns through the glades.It is amazing how little water the air boat needs to be able to move, according to JR, some of the areas we crossed had only an inch or so of water.

It was quite interesting to see the smaller groups of mangroves just starting to create the larger areas that would eventually become land. It may seem long ago from the point of view of human settlements in the glades but it was not all that long ago that this whole area was ocean.
After returning to dry land, we crossed the road to take the swamp buggy portion of our tour. This area has more dry land and muddy swamp and is entirely freshwater so many shrubs and trees can grow here that do not do well in the saltier parts of the glades. Here are found more of the mammals such as the raccoons, skunks, possums, bobcats, white-tailed deer, panthers and black bears. The peculiar looking vehicle to the right is perfect for traversing this area with large tires and height giving it the ability to travel through water, mud and on land.

It wasn't a good day for seeing animals but we did stumble on this cute little bear cub. According to the guide, earlier in the day there had been a pair of them. Although the mama wasn't spotted perhaps between then and our trip, she had chivvied one of the cubs home and would soon return for this one which we found peeking around the remains of an old leanto.

When we returned to the beginning area of the swamp buggy trip, we passed a small enclosed pond that had a captive alligator in it but that is not at all the same as seeing one in the wild. I realize that to some degree, most of these animals and birds are used to the frequent presence of people but seeing them in their own habitat is just so much better than when they are caged.

After this swamp buggy trip we returned across the road to check out the animal sanctuary where they also had some alligator wrestling and stuff like that but to me that is just stupid entertainment, not what the animal is really like. They had a huge fenced pond full of gators and a couple of cement enclosures, one of which had a bored sleepy otter.

We finally headed back to our temporary home at the motel along the Tamiami Trail, fortunately not hitting the traffic jam we had found earlier in the day.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Great Washer Disaster

For the twenty-four years we have been married, almost every Sunday has been laundry day. Here and there for one reason or another it has been a Saturday or a Monday or whatever but probably at least 95% of the time it has been on Sunday so ... Sunday, December 30th, we were proceeding as usual and when the washer did its little toodle-oo that it was done (with the first load),  Geoff headed off to it to put the contents in the dryer and start the next load ... when ooops, loud yell from Geoff and I scurried into the kitchen ... water was running all over the floor!

In fact water was pouring across the kitchen floor and into Geoff's office! I hollered for towels and Geoff ran to the linen closet for a pile of towels which we threw down on the floor to grab up the water and stop it from going further. We tried first to call our insurance company but, being a Sunday, the service there simply said to call and report it tomorrow.

So, we took a look and quickly decided to call ServPro, a big cleanup and restoration business ... advertising pays! They came within an hour and started further cleanup. We had done as much as we could soaking up water from half the kitchen and half Geoff's office but water had still got into a lot of stuff and we were especially concerned about dampness in the walls and mold! The two guys that came from ServPro were reassuring and immediately got to work removing water and setting up fans and dehumidifiers as they investigated the situation. They also complimented us on what we had managed to do and said it was surprising the number of people who not only don't make even a stab at cleanup but sometimes do not even stop the source of the problem!

Dehumidifier and one of the many fans

We, on the other hand, were stunned, completely gobsmacked. We were just beginning to feel like we had the house somewhat put back together after the new flooring and furniture and WHAM, disrupted again. The kitchen wasn't too bad as the ceramic tile withstood the water well due to the relatively short time it was wet and there was limited furniture in there, especially since the cabinet under the window wasn't installed yet.

The floor in Geoff's office was done for, hardwood laminate does fine with a damp mop but otherwise does NOT like water on it at all. This meant that we had to empty the storage cabinet, desk, bookshelves, pretty much all the furniture in his office and put it back out in the garage. Everything was moved away form the walls, flooring and baseboard taken up and fans set to dry before mold or anything could get started in the walls.

The pile of stuff they had to haul away
The kitchen had the baseboard taken up and the cabinet, washer and dryer all moved away from the walls. We had already dragged the area rugs out of the kitchen and office and they were taken to be dried. Since they had only been down a couple of weeks they didn't need cleaning anyway. Eventually they did end up removing the drywall that had been in the laundry area, along with quite a pile of trash.

The next day, Monday, we called our insurance and got that moving and checked on the washer which it seems we had gotten the extended warranty and it hadn't even expired yet! So we called Home Depot on that. They were most helpful and set up an appointment a few days later for the washer repair guy to come. Our insurance company were also helpful and things moved right along except only time was gonna dry things out so we were stuck with noisy fans and dehumidifiers for what turned into close to a couple of weeks although some of them were removed sooner.

The old washer box, source of the trouble
The washer repairman came and checked the washer out thoroughly and determined it was NOT the problem so calls to the plumber and a thorough check there determined that what they call the washer box had failed and the hookups broken off and the water had not drained like it should, pouring into the wall instead. From there it flowed mostly towards the kitchen and Geoff's office but some towards the garage and had thoroughly soaked that wall.

As disheartening as taking all sorts of stuff back out to the garage was and having to replace the floor in Geoff's office that had just been put down, if we had still had the carpet it would have been MUCH worse as it would have just soaked up tons of water and there would have been little we could do as it was quite clear that our quick (for a couple of old people) action in cleaning up what we could had done much to mitigate the situation.

They finally started putting stuff back together when the drywall guy came and took care of what they had demolished in the laundry area. That was the week of the 21st, the same week we also finally got that window seat cabinet installed. They finally got the flooring replacement in and the week of February 11th, got the floor replaced in Geoff's office!

The picture at the right shows the wall along which they were drying out his office walls and floor. I think we listened to fans almost three weeks all together. During the day we spent a lot of time in my office and Geoff's temporary office with the doors closed just so we could hear ourselves think.

I rarely do an out and out praise for companies but the ServPro crews were helpful, responsive, and prompt and the charges even though mostly paid by our insurance were NOT unreasonable. They were polite, hard-working and most of all communicative even with the delays in getting the replacement flooring in for Geoff's office. I hope you NEVER EVER need them but if you have this kind of situation, I strongly recommend them!

As you can imagine, Geoffrey spent the next several Sundays sitting right by the washer while we did laundry, just in case it happened again! I think it is time for our next escape ... off to the Keys & the Everglades!

Roomba, Roomba, where are you ...

... or is it a new child in the house?

Geoff's birthday is December 16th and since mine is the 22nd we usually just take each other out to dinner but since the box was big and detracted from the look of the Christmas tree, I had Geoffrey open a present early ... a Roomba! He had talked about one off and on for ages and had been fussing about how much lint and stuff showed on the new floors so after reading up on the various options I gave him an iRobot Roomba 890 which includes Wi-Fi connectivity, a feature I figured my techie husband would appreciate.Little did I know this would bring a whole new set of adventures!

The following Rommba tales are from a series of emails (very minor editing) to my sisters about these adventures ...
"Anyway, the Roomba is out there exploring the house right this minute and making odd noises as it bumps its way round learning the ins and outs of our house. Last I looked it was in the kitchen. Sorry ... got distracted by the Roomba as I went to check on it again and the bin full light was on so I had to empty the bin which meant finding the instructions! We will undoubtedly have that for a while as we have several new area rugs. Oh my ... we are turning into Millennials ... we have a Roomba and a Keurig!"

"It is definitely interesting to have one rummaging around. There are a few things it can get under, in particular a big storage cabinet in Geoff’s office and I was terrified it would get stuck under there or something but when I wasn’t looking it snuck under there, I just caught it’s rear vanishing in the corner of my eye! So now we get rumbledee bump for a minute or two and then out it comes! I really need to get Geoff to start it up again so it can clean some more … besides it is weirdly fun to be sitting here with it bumbling around in the house!"

"Definitely is like having a pet or a toddler in the house whenever you set Roomba loose! Yesterday Geoffrey had it out and it spent a considerable amount of time under our bed. It finally exited the bedroom and we herded it home to its charger but, later that night I woke up and realized my clock was missing! Further hunting around and clearly the phone extension was missing also! Took a few minutes sleep befuddled thought but clearly while it was toddling around under the bed Roomba had grabbed the cords for the clock and phone and pulled them down under the bed with it … guess maybe they are clean now? We recovered the missing items a little bit ago and the cords have now been tucked away so next trip under the bed Roomba will have to do without them as playthings."

"Oh gawd ... it's at it again! Here I was, sitting here nice and peacefully at my computer, munching my breakfast, drinking my tea … and I hear this polite little ding in the distance. At first I don’t realize what it is, Geoff’s computer often makes odd dings and beeps while he does stuff even when he is not sitting at it. But then I hear this little light whirring sound! Roomba is loose again! Geoffrey has forgotten that he set it for 9 am on Mondays as an ONGOING thing, not just one time. I jump up and scurry around the house trying to remember everything Roomba has trained me at … slippers and shoes off the floor, close the bathroom door, block the kitchen doorways, yelling at Geoffrey (who has ensconced himself in the master bath toilet, to put the hamper across the opening into the master bath  and get his stuff off the floor! Catching my breath now as it appears that Roomba is playing around under the bed (from which we have removed the clock and phone cables) and will be busy a while … also making a note to speak to Geoff about the timing of his weekly Roomba schedule!"

"Past installments have mentioned the Monday morning scheduling of Roomba … well, Thursday morning as I tried to sleep in a bit, Geoff woke me up to say it was almost Roomba time as he had scheduled it for 9 AM on BOTH Monday AND Thursday! I tried to ignore this, curling up under the covers, but then thoughts of trying to lay there while Roomba crawled around under the bed took hold and I dragged myself up <sigh> informing Geoffrey it was his turn to trail along after Roomba watching for further deviant behavior and gathering my cup of tea I retreated to my computer room. At which point Geoffrey reported that Roomba had crawled around cleaning under his desk and then headed out down the hall to the bedroom where after a short tour of the outer edges it scooted under the bed. Standing there listening to it bumbling around under there must have been boring and soon he was no longer paying attention. Apparently this did not suit Roomba as it snuck out from under the bed and attacked his feet, quickly retreating back under the bed. Roomba clearly was just waiting for another chance and as soon as his attention was elsewhere out it scooted, attacking his feet again! Eventually it tired of the game and headed to the rest of the house, next stop, my computer room. Of course it has gotten me trained already and I simply positioned my feet and chair to keep it out from under my desk thus obviating the need to pick anything up. It soon tired of my room and headed for the living room. Now, Geoff was supposed to be keeping an eye on it but I soon heard strange noises from the other room and decided I better go check … Roomba had found the Christmas tree and its surrounding presents! For the most part it just bumbled around the edges and the presents themselves managed to fend it off but then it discovered the flat ones that were just leaning up against the others and by the time I got there it was trying to eat one of them … a lovely little flat one with gold paper and a bell on it. I rescued the present with no damage done, the bell keeping it from disappearing underneath Roomba, and quickly rearranged the gifts so the flat ones were still leaning up against others but were layered above Roomba’s reach. Of course this disconcerted Roomba and it headed back to my office again at which point it decided its battery was dying and it needed to get back to its dock! Not sure I can take this twice a week stuff especially first thing in the morning!"

"As you are both aware from yesterday’s email, we had a small disaster with the washer flooding out half the kitchen and most of Geoff’s office requiring we call in ServPro to cleanup and start restoration/repair. So 9 o’clock this morning Geoff and I are ensconced in my office where, with the door shut, we can hear each other over the blowing fans and other equipment that has been running in the disaster area since yesterday afternoon. I though I heard a clunk out there some where but the way this house is sometimes it can be next door or even across the street and nothing showed on our (external) cameras and we were busy calling our insurance agent and Home Depot over the protection plan for the washer. I figured it was nothing but then I heard another and another. We finally headed out to the rest of the house and there was Roomba busily cleaning away in the little hall outside my office. We finally corralled it and got it returned to its dock … sometimes it is worse than having a child or a pet, yelling at it gets no response whatsoever! … Geoff has now retreated to a laundromat to finish washing the load of clothes and the towels we used yesterday and I am waiting on ServPro which called and will be here in about a half hour. The washer repair guy is scheduled for Thursday … stuff always seems to happen around holidays." [For those who did not hear about the Great Washer Disaster, be patient, a post is coming on that. I am trying to be somewhat chronological with this.]

"Sitting here at my computer this morning on a day full of visitors … the security company for an issue with the system, the estimator for repairs to the house, and the cabinet installer guy … and at 9 I hear these little musical tones and then the whirring sounds of Roomba. Geoff who is ensconced in his temporary computer room in the corner junk room mutters some rude words and takes off after it. Roomba had promptly veered into Geoff’s usual office which at the moment is a wasteland of bare concrete slab where the floor was taken up from the flood and pieces of furniture cluttering the space. So of course Roomba, enjoying being somewhere forbidden to it for the last couple of weeks, kept ducking under stuff where he couldn’t catch her. After several attempts and much muttering of ‘come here you little idiot’ and such like, he did catch her and returned her to her base."

Well, Roomba has mostly trained us now and what few adventures occur with it are minor but it sure is a learning experience!